Australian GP: Friday press conference, part 2

Continued from Part 1 Q: We are hearing a lot of conciliatory noises about how it is all going to be sorted out before June, but if you look at it from a philosophical point of view, you have the FIA who are trying to slash costs and Honda who...

Continued from Part 1

Q: We are hearing a lot of conciliatory noises about how it is all going to be sorted out before June, but if you look at it from a philosophical point of view, you have the FIA who are trying to slash costs and Honda who believe in open development and pushing to the limit of that. Surely we are looking at something that is impossible to please everybody?

Nick Fry: As we were named in your question I think I'll start. I think there is a reasonable compromise to be found. We do, as you know, believe in a more liberal approach on development because it is very much an engineering project for Honda. Its developing the engineers and the technology that feeds into the road cars and that is important, but at the end of the day we don't want to end up competing with ourselves. So, I think there is some common ground that can be found and that is all around what I call useable technology that can be used in a road car environment or in other fields. So I think what we've got to do between us is to sort out the wheat from the chaff -- for example, some of the material development is very applicable and some of it is less so. And we are quite happy to be part of that process.

Sam Michael: I think that there will be a solution, I mean most of the things go to the Technical Working Group which is where a lot of these things will go now, we find a solution because we have to. I think when you get 11 technical people in a room with Charlie you'll come up with a good solution that is sensible for everyone. It wont be favourable for everyone, but it'll be a good solution.

Norbert Haug: Yes, we are very much the same. I think it is a step in the right direction that we have a majority rule right now so we can at least get things moved and you know we need to agree on what the majority says at the end of the day. We already did that with the V8 we were very much in favour of a restricted V10 as everybody knows, but three or five manufacturers were very much for the V8 and that is what we have right now. I think the baseline is good. Not everything is sorted out, but at least the direction is better than we had a couple of years ago and I think due to the efforts of the teams, GPMA, Bernie, the FIA, I have to say that Max is sometimes criticised for wanting to put his ideas through, but I honestly believe the background really is cost-saving and making the sport more interesting, but my view is that we should sit together which is what we are doing and, you know, competent opinions brought together in a respectful way normally lead in the right direction and I think that there is a better atmosphere than there has been before which does not necessarily mean that we are under the control of everything, but the basis is a very good one.

Pat Symonds: Well, we spoke earlier about the new spirit of cooperation amongst the teams and I think that if you couple that with some of the constitutional changes in how voting will take place in 2008, we are effectively removing the single veto on change and I think that there is every likelihood that things will come together and I think that Joe is right that you are not going to please all of the people all of the time. But I think that in general I think the teams are reasonably alike in where they want to go I think all of us want to save money and even those teams that are better financed don't want to waste money so I think that given the time we have got to develop the regulations for 2008, I think we will come up with some pretty sensible solutions.

Q: Nick, you were talking about things that were applicable to road cars, (but), specifically, are you talking about hybrid systems that use different kinds of energy? Because if you have all the same engines, how are we going to see overtaking, particularly if you have standard tyres and standard aerodynamics and standard this and that?

Nick Fry: On hybrid, for example, I think Formula One has to move with the times and it has to be applicable to road cars and I think as road cars move ever more environmentally friendly and efficient I think Formula One needs to move in the same direction and that is something that needs to be done gradually because the cost of that kind of technology is enormous. Honda are quite adept at hybrid technology so we might be at quite an advantageous position, but I don't think we'd advocate doing it quickly because the costs are so enormous, but I can certainly see an environment in five years time where that type of technology is employed on Formula One cars.

Pat Symonds: Yes, I think I'd go along with that and I think that while we are closing down many areas of research in Formula One I think it is good to have applicable research. Hybrid technology is very, very interesting and since Max first proposed it we have spent a fair bit of time looking closely at it and the more I look at it, the more interested I am in it. If you look at the motor industry 50 years down the line, hybrid technology will probably be reasonably commonplace, but it won't actually be the fundamental energy-saving -- there will be lots of other things. We probably won't be using fossil fuel engines etc. But nevertheless hybrid technology will form part of whatever automotive power is used so it is an interesting thing to do. It's quite a fascinating subject when you consider how it might be used strategically in a race and probably answer some of the questions about how we are going to overtake and things like that. It is very interesting and as an engineer I love it, of course. But as to trying to look after the business interests, yeah, it is going to be expensive. But I think that if it were totally uncontrolled, it would be ridiculously expensive and we would be trying to reinvent the wheel, but I think that with a little bit of control on it -- Max has, for example, said that maybe they will supply the super capacitor packs and things like that and we will work on developing things like motors, motor generators etc, maybe there is some interesting stuff there. But I do think we have to get our house in order first and deal with the fundamentals and we have to walk before we can run.

Norbert Haug: I think that generally speaking we would support everything that makes the sport more interesting and obviously if you can draw a connection line between serious products and motor racing, if that is possible fine but what we need to be careful of is that if we start to save money on the engine side that we don't spend it or part of it again for the sake of hybrid, but basically I am open and I mean my favourite hybrid would have been to limit a v10 to whatever, say 750 horsepower and give it an overtake button for another 150 horsepower and I think that would have contributed. This is not just thinking about the past, it might be an idea for the next engine formula but it is a kind of hybrid as well and not at all an expensive one. Basically we are open but first sport, then show and entertainment and then comes whatever helps to make that happen in a better way and I think that is the right order.

Sam Michael: I think I have similar thoughts to Pat. It does need a lot of work and is not something that is going to happen immediately for 2008 or 2009 and I think there is still a lot of groundwork to cover and in particular the sort of details on whether you can use a static capacitor or not because you can spend anywhere from say 50 grand to probably five million pounds on a capacitor system and you don't want a race between who can spend the most on capacitors and that is what is happening in the road car industry at the moment. Max is sensible enough to know that and he knows all those details already and that sort of thing will be sorted out early on and it is not a short-term project.

Q: Most of us have seen the era of the four wheel development Lotus, the six wheel Tyrrell, the Brabham and you all know it better than I know, so I would like to ask each one of you what would be your personal favourite as a racing car -- how many litres, how many cylinders, tyres -- grooved or slicks?, four-wheel drive or whatever, regardless of Charlie or Bernie and so on.. Just what you personally would like...

Pat Symonds: My answer is all of the above.

Nick Fry: I think that so long as whatever it is brings out the driver's skill and that things sound fast, look fast and there is overtaking and it is entertaining and it is great fun and I don't think it matters on the technical details. I don't think we have to worry too much about the technical details but think about what is entertaining to start with and work backwards from there. I think a surfeit of power over grip tends to help.

Sam Michael: As an engineer, I would like to see active suspension come back to Formula One. I think that when it was banned ten years ago things were very much in their infancy whereas now a hydraulic pump on a car with 'move' valves is pretty trivial technology. Everyone is doing it and it is not very expensive. I think it would also add a lot to the show, more for an engineer than anyone else, and I can remember the cars, 10 or 12 years ago, when you could see the cars going through all the calibration checks by themselves in the garages and it is pretty impressive to people who are watching Formula One to think that a car can do that. And I think the rest of the things are really there for the sport. On the subject of a single tyre supply, I think that it will be good for Formula One. Some of the best racing we had, in 1999 and 2000, was when there was a single tyre supplier and I don't think it negates on overtaking at all. I don't think it contributes on helping overtaking, but it definitely doesn't make it worse. So I think there are a few things like that that will make it better for 2008.

Norbert Haug: well I think we are not too far off. I think slicks and some aerodynamic changes are feasible for the future. I think the aerodynamic changes to help with overtaking are in the pipeline as well. I would prefer a bigger engine with more torque and I think that drivers' skills is an issue in that context. A 2.4 litre is not ideal in that sector so maybe in the future there is a little bit more cubic inches and torque. But I have to say we have fantastic racing cars and you follow Formula One longer than I do but when I look at the sophistication of the cars, how they look, I think it is an ideal formula if you cut off the engine costs it will be a big step. And we are not far off as I pointed out.

Nick Fry: Maybe we could all choose a car from the Whacky Races cartoon and so long as we can have Penelope Pit Stop then we'll be happy.

Q: To all of you, is there any way we can make this Friday session more attractive, exciting, sexy so we don't fall asleep?

Norbert Haug: That's the jet lag.

Q: Friday racing, or this press conference?

Pat Symonds: I think that what is happening now on Fridays is an inevitability of the rules and I agree to you that were it not for the third cars the P1 session would be dire. You asked what can make the Friday session better... Well, I think we should think a little more laterally than that and ask ourselves if we need a Friday session. I personally am more in favour of having a two-day Grand Prix event and maybe we use Friday for testing. All of these things have been talked about. But I think that while we are limited on tyres and limited on the number of kilometres we want to run our engines then the inevitability is that we cut out the least productive part of running and that is Friday, particularly Friday morning. It is an inevitability and we need to look at why it occurred and is there a better solution than just trying to fix it. I think that all too often in Formula One there is too much heritage and tradition... You know the idea that we have to have three days of running. You know it took us ages to realise that we didn't need two qualifying sessions -- things like this. We should be far more lateral thinking than we are.

Nick Fry: It is quite interesting Nicky that you know about a year ago when the GPMA, or whatever its predecessor was called, the teams started to work together, one of the early things we looked at was just doing something different on Friday and it comes to what Pat said that from a racing point of view, Friday is unnecessary and one of the ideas for Friday is to make it more of a promotional, sponsors and fun day and do different things at the circuit. The teams would be there, but it would do something much more outward facing giving members of the public and fans more access to the teams. But not necessarily practicing in the way we do at the moment and that is something we should consider. I think we are all in favour of racing more and testing less and doing things that have got wider appeal than what we do at the moment.

Norbert Haug: Much the same for me I think Friday could be a test day, not a six-hours test day, but a warm-up day or whatever and a promotion day. In the afternoon, you can give the possibility to young people to enter the race track for low costs, for promotion or whatever, because these are the guys we have got to interest for the future of the sport. I think there are some good ideas in place. We do not need a three-day event. If we could use a different engine and tyres on Friday, you could certainly learn something for the weekend it could certainly be an entertaining day.

Sam Michael: Yes, the key to it is to make it a test day because you wont get the teams to do the mileage on their race cars because they are saving them for qualifying and race. Everyone has a certain amount of mileage they have to stick to so the only way to do it is to say it is a free test day -- just two two-hour sessions or something like that -- where you can run a test engine and put your race engine back in on Friday night if it is from the race before and combine it with other things as well.

-fia-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Norbert Haug , Nick Fry